THE MONTAILHAC FAMILY SERIES
Arnaut is the second of the three Montailhac brothers. He is the lively one, with a boundless energy. His almond eyes constantly smile in the most captivating way, and the girls are unable to resist his charm.
His home is a splendid chateau in the foothills of the Pyrenees.
Arnaut has always had a passion for horses and is a splendid rider. Together with his younger sister and her husband, Arnaut's lifelong friend, he has a stud farm, aiming to improve the breed of the local Castillon and Merens horses.
The Merens, sturdy and short-legged, is especially suitable for riding in the Pyrenees.
Arnaut's reputation as a rake is well established. Secretly, he longs for a role where he could excel, like his older brother, Henri, the diplomat. Perhaps the events of the summer of 1813 will give him that opportunity. But when his first official task is to seduce a beautiful young widow, Arnaut suspects he is considered to be nothing more than a charming fribble. However, events quickly turn nasty and he sets off on a quest, determined to prove his true worth.
The whole border region of the Pyrenees is wild and remote, and fiercely independent. Once it was the land of the Cathars and after centuries of persecution, the people, many of them Protestants, now rely on their local lord for protection and guidance. Their allegiance is totally to him and to each other. Napoleon has few supporters in this area.
Because the region is so mountainous and wild, and sparsely populated, it remains largely ignored by Paris during the period of the Revolution and Napoleon's empire. But in 1813 the Allies, under Wellington, are driving Napoleon's army ever northwards out of Spain.
There is a major battle when Marshal Jourdain and Emperor Joseph Bonaparte face the British, Spanish and Portuguese Allies at Vitoria on 21st June. The French lose the day and flee northwards towards the Pyrenees. Through the last weeks of July there are several smaller battles as the Allies relentlessly push the French out of Spain. By October, Marchal Soult places the French army along the Bidassoa Valley but in the battle the English gain the day and the French head northwards, aiming for Toulouse.
Such events attract attention from interested parties far away. At the end of July a mysterious messenger arrives from England. And that is when Arnaut and his family are precipitated into a whirlwind of plots and counter plots.
Between 1809 and 1814, Hartwell House in Buckinghamshire was the home of the exiled French king, brother of King Louis XVI who was executed in 1793.
Previously titled the Comte de Provence, Louis Stanislas was now known as King Louis XVIII of France.
He worked tirelessly to promote himself as a future ruler of France in a constitutional monarchy; showing willingness to accept many reforms and tolerance of minority religions. He was more liberal than his ministers and even his younger brother, the Comte d'Artois.
In the story, the king is anxious to know if Wellington will pursue Marshal Soult and Napoleon's French Army through the Pyrenees and into France. Is it time, at long last, for the Bourbons to reclaim the French throne? Arnaut brings information from his father about the possibility of raising the South-West in favour of a Bourbon restoration. But there are conditions. And even if the king agrees, Arnaut is being followed by two of Napoleon's best agents, both ruthless killers and determined to prevent him from carrying out his mission successfully.